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Majors, popularity, LIV, gambling ... Phil Mickelson's legacy is complicated

Readers of The First Call offer a varied range of opinions on how the six-time major champion's career will ultimately be viewed

Saudi International 2022
Phil Mickelson, left, and caddie Tim Mickelson on the 18th green during the 2022 Saudi International's final round at Royal Greens Golf and Country Club in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

> Question of the Week [May 9-15]: What do you believe will be Phil Mickelson's lasting legacy — 45 PGA Tour wins and six majors or his involvement with LIV Golf and reports of gambling issues . 

The legacy of Phil Mickelson will ultimately be his playing record. The numerous close calls at the U.S. Open will dwarf the LIV connection by far. The other critically important legacy Phil will leave is his unique capacity to connect with golf fans of all ages. To those more closely connected to the golf industry and professional golf, Phil will be seen as a complex individual with many good characteristics but, at the same time, a person with just as many flaws.

Reid Farrill
Toronto, Canada

What should have been and what could have been.

Michael Schurman
Durham Ontario

I have always felt that the concept of a legacy is a bit overblown. What Phil Mickelson does off the course should be of little interest to anyone, save for his family. If he lost $40 million or $0 is none of my — or anyone else's — business. Neither too should his rather ill-advised comments recently. What does matter is what he has done on the golf course and for that he should be celebrated for being the second best player of his generation and one of the best all time. That his career coincided with Mr. Woods' has led many to diminish his accomplishments. Tiger Woods is / was perhaps the best ever, so being a strong second to that should bring no shame. Phil is an everyman's player. He knows he probably can't make the shot but tries it anyway. We all do it and that's why he is so entertaining to watch. Yes, some of his shots go into the water, but then so do a lot of mine.

Baird Heide
Bradford, Ontario

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His wins and majors are what golfers will remember. Lots of golfers in the past had major blemishes in their past, but with social media [these days], we will always be reminded of what a loudmouth and self-important knitwit he really is.

Jimmy O’Malley
Needham, Massachusetts

Gentlemen, Phil has been a wonderful ambassador for our great game of golf. Recently he has been "three putting" in life. Having been very close to the gaming industry through my business, everybody in the industry knew he was a big "whale" both in the casinos and through sports betting. We haven't heard the last of the Billy Walters issue. Billy also has done a lot for the golf industry and he helped Phil with the stock tip to help recoup some of his gambling losses. What does Phil do ... testify against him in court in the insider trading deal with the Dean [Foods], another big gambling loser. Billy goes to jail. Philly Mick's credibility with the real people, not the the naive adoring golf fans, is totally in the crapper.

Doug Fraser 
Ocean City, New Jersey

I think Phil's legacy will largely depend on what happens going forward.

If he has spent the last several weeks working on his REPORTEDLY big gambling problem and keeps that in the rearview mirror, then the public will forgive him.

But if Phil still has gambling issues (if the number is correct, $40 million in gambling debt is a massive problem), then he will not be able to move past it.

The piece of the Phil puzzle we didn't have was the financial. If he is trying to pay off that debt, then the LIV golf courtship comes into sharper relief.

I sure hope he's gets that behind him with counseling and family support because addiction is non-discriminatory: It consumes all in its path.

Mark Matlock
Bluffton, South Carolina

Absolutely, the number of wins. More importantly, how he treated the fans. Great golfer and entertainer. He spoke the truth. Gambling losses? It's his money, I don't care how he spent it.

Sue Bennett 
Montgomery, Vermont 

There is no taking away from Phil’s accomplishments on the course and off. 

Yet LIV and his response to it and his lack of compassion for the way the Saudi government has treated its citizens will always be with him. Then there is his treatment of the PGA Tour, which made it possible for him to use a God-given talent to make a very good living. 

I will never take away from an individual's right to voice their opinion. Yet it doesn’t mean you throw people under the bus (a la U.S. captain Tom Watson at the Ryder Cup) or bad-mouth those who have worked hard to make things better, especially when you know the rules that are in place.

Don Moore
Warren, Pennsylvania

I think it depends on where he goes from here. We, as humans, eventually minimize the past to focus on the present. How many people are still bringing up Tiger Woods' marital issues from years ago? Phil is an iconic presence in the golf world and, in my opinion, is how he will be remembered.

Craig Libhart
Bainbridge, Pennsylvania

One of the least-liked guys on Tour. A self-gratuitous cheapskate who stiffed his caddie and thought he was bigger than the game. Not a nice person, who treated the little guys with disdain and who bit the hand that made him. May he make lots of double bogeys.

Larry Guli
Waxhaw, North Carolina

I follow golf to follow the golfers. Forget the politics. Phil will be known for his playing record, his relationship with the fans and his go-for-it attitude. 

Jim Will
The Villages, Florida

If Phil goes LIV, his legacy will be forever tarnished regarding his PGA Tour career and his gambling issues will become more forefront. But if all is resolved with the PGA Tour and he would, by chance, win again — although highly unlikely — sports fans and the media would love him as a winner and a comeback story. Winning makes a lot of people forget. 

Barry Duckworth 
Knoxville, Tennessee 

1. Phil will always have the legacy of being a superior golfer in his time. But he will also carry the weight of "what ifs" as far as really taking his craft seriously from the standpoint of doing everything possible to be the best he could be.

2. LIV? Just Phil grabbing a bit too much. He thought he could get away with another moment like when he threw Tom Watson under the bus at the Ryder Cup. Not this time. Pay the price, and it is a big one.

3. Gambling? Hah. You writers have been reporting on the big money games on Tuesday before an event for years. Where would this be news. Jordan, Daly, Phil ...

And the list goes on. Some people with good cash flow just like to play. Not for everyone. 

James Wenzel
Barrington, Illinois

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